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Broadway Fever - Spring Awakenings!

April 22, 2011 - by Griffin Miller

The superstars illuminating the current Broadway season have chosen well, as you will read below. Here's hoping you, too, will choose wisely, grasshopper, and that your search will lead you to great theatrical riches. May the standing ovations be with you...

Daniel Radcliffe is a charismatic J. Pierpont Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying -- complete with a first-rate American accent and irresistible song-and-dance-man allure. When he teams up with costar John Larroquette (Night Court; Boston Legal) for the showstopper “Grand Old Ivy” (and yes, the number involves retro football helmets and Groundhog channeling), it’s sheer musical comedy heaven. And FYI, should you have a young Harry Potter fan in the family (especially one of the female persuasion), H2$ is an OMG! must-must-must see.

Compelling at the opposite end of the spectrum is Robin Williams’ Broadway debut as the title predator (actually, equal parts pragmatic predator and philosopher on an afterlife quest) in playwright Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo). Black humor, a brilliant script, a spot-on cast and a garden of ravaged topiaries make this production one the season’s most memorable -- and haunting -- experiences.

And speaking of Broadway debuts of the comic-turned-actor variety, Chris Rock is an out-and-out revelation in The Motherf**ker With the Hat alongside a powerhouse cast that includes Bobby Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabella Sciorra and Yul Vazquez. Here’s hoping Rock enjoys his sojourn on Broadway enough to return to the stage whenever his schedule allows. And, lest we forget, funny guy Jim Gaffigan, who is holding his own in his first Broadway outing in That Championship Season -- not necessarily an easy feat considering his costars include Chris Noth, Brian Cox, Kiefer Sutherland (another noteworthy Broadway debut), and Jason Patric who, incidentally, happens to be the son of the late Jason Miller, the playwright who won a Pulitzer Prize for the script in 1973.

Other big names making headlines this spring (in one of the most rewarding seasons in recent Broadway history, I might add) include: Oscar winner Frances McDormand, delivering a luminous tour de force performance in Good People, from another Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire; Billy Crudup, turning in a delectably eccentric performance in the exquisite revival of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia; Tony winners Joel Grey and Sutton Foster, double-dazzling in the retro-glam Cole Porter classic, Anything Goes; Jim Belushi and Robert Sean Leonard in the comedy Born Yesterday; Edie Falco and Ben Stiller in The House of Blue Leaves; and Ellen Barkin (yet another high-profile Broadway newbie) in The Normal Heart, directed by Joel Grey.

Directed in Grey’s spare time one assumes, considering that in addition to performing in Anything Goes, he’s also been involved in a most excellent exhibit of his Manhattan photography (yes, his artistic vision spills well over the footlights). Currently on display through August 7 at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Ave. at 103rd St.), his photos are only part of the show’s drawing power: it also taps into his acting legacy by presenting a career timeline mounted alongside photos, posters, and delightful bits of personal memorabilia, including his Oscar and Emcee costume from Cabaret.

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